By Liz Lopez
Director Joe Cornish (2011 cult favorite “Attack the Block”) returns with “The Kid Who Would Be King” a contemporary King Arthur legend screenplay he wrote featuring pre/young teens saving England from complete doom by someone who wants the sword after it is pulled from the stone. The story is pretty simple, featuring the students at Dungate Academy facing adolescent life similar to many, including the school bullies that are all too common, unfortunately. The son of a single mom, Mary (Denise Gough), 12-year-old Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”) confronts two older students, Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) and Lance (Tom Taylor), who are harassing his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo). Of course, Lance is not going to allow Alex get away with embarrassing him in front of the student body. Chasing Alex into a place of danger yields a discovery that changes the young lad’s life at that point. Taylor and Dorris perform well as the young hoodlums of the boarding school who pick on younger, less experienced boys that are not rail thin.
The favorite character is Merlin and it is hard not to like the way he is presented. It is fantastic that Patrick Stewart stars as the elder, “real” Merlin, but he is able to magically transform himself into a young student version of himself (played by Angus Imrie) and “sticks out like a sore thumb” among the other adolescents, high – water pants and all. He also sneezes and becomes an owl to escape quickly. I have no doubt the younger demographic that views the film will be trying to mimic young Merlin’s fancy finger snapping and hand movements as he does in the film to cast a spell. Stewart’s few scenes are significant for those of us who know the importance of this actor’s talent and contribution to the film.
Fair warning, “The Kid Who Would Be King” is not all fun and games, as it does have a dark side that I was not anticipating for my seven year old grandson to view. Coming from the depths of the Earth, Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), the long-dead Arthur’s relative, wants the sword for herself. Two things that may be a bit scary for some younger children is Morgana’s look of a bad witch with long roots that reach above ground to spy on the world, and the deceased horsemen who chase the youngsters. Adults will know it is visual effects, but a smaller child may not be able to know the difference.
Although we don’t actually see Alex become “king,” the story about the students learning how to work together to save England (and the world) is still a good one for the younger demographic. Plan a family outing for a matinee on the weekend. There certainly should be some smiles with the humor in the script.
MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 2 hours